The Control Yuan yesterday impeached former secretary-general of the National Security Council (NSC) Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) and former foreign minister James Huang (黃志芳) over the Papua New Guinea diplomatic scandal, which saw the country defrauded of US$29.8 million by two brokers during an attempt to establish diplomatic ties with the Pacific island.
Control Yuan President Wang Chien-hsien joined the investigation into the case initially assigned to Control Yuan member Tu Shan-liang (杜善良), marking the first time in the watchdog’s history that the Control Yuan president had gotten involved in investigating alleged irregularities by civil servants.
Wang and Tu called for the impeachment of Chiou and Huang and a review committee composed of the other 11 Control Yuan members voted seven-to-three in favor of their suggestion.
At a press conference following the review, Wang said Chiou “went beyond his power [as NSC secretary-general]” to instruct Huang in diplomatic affairs and “failed to conduct strict background checks” into the two middlemen before introducing them to Huang.
In August 2006, Chiou commissioned Ching Chi-ju (金紀玖), a Singaporean businessman, to act as intermediary in the diplomatic task, and the foreign ministry then wired US$29.8 million into a bank account at a branch of OCBC Bank in Singapore set up by Ching and his friend Wu Shih-tsai (吳思材).
When the foreign ministry found out that Papua New Guinea had no intention of establishing diplomatic ties with Taiwan, it lost contact with the two brokers and the funds, which were intended for the Papua New Guinea government, went missing.
Wang said that Huang should have rejected the order from Chiou at the very beginning as the ministry’s East Asia and Pacific Affairs Department Director-General Donald Lee (李傳通) had told Huang that Ching and Wu were not reliable.
Meanwhile, the Control Yuan on Tuesday impeached Taitung County Commissioner Kuang Li-chen (鄺麗貞) over her alleged abuse of public funds for overseas trips, overturning the watchdog’s earlier decision last month not to impeach her.
Kuang drew widespread criticism for failing to cancel a 13-day trip to Europe ahead of a typhoon in July. She later was found to have spent millions of NT dollars in the previous two years on overseas trips and forging trip reports for her overseas travels.
The Control Yuan’s previous decision against the impeachment in a vote of six-to-four was tainted by speculation that several Control Yuan members were swayed by lobbying efforts.
Despite reversing its decision on Kuang, the Control Yuan yesterday came under more criticism for deciding not to announce the result of the case review.
Wang, defending the Control Yuan, said it was within the bylaws of the Control Yuan Act (監察法施行細則) for members to decide whether to announce the results of a review.
According to the bylaws, investigation results of cases with confidential information concerning diplomatic and military affairs are not disclosed in principle, while other cases can either be revealed or kept secret, depending on the decision of Control Yuan members reviewing the case.
Wang said whether the regulation is rational is open to discussion.
When asked for comment, a number of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators criticized the Control Yuan for deciding not to make public its decision to impeach Kuang.